16: Last of the Genro and the Shantung Unsettlement
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March 5, 1919
I strayed from my accustomed beat today and lunched with Baron Makino at the Hotel
Bristol where the Japanese delegation, of which he is the leading member (for Prince
Saionji never appears), occupies very sumptuous quarters. My excuse for trespassing is
that at long last we at the Conference are hearing the East a-calling and also that I came
to know the Baron quite intimately when I was secretary at the legation in Tokyo, 1895 -
1896. Indeed it was Makino who at that time proposed me as an associate member of the
American Friendly Society, composed of students who had studied at our colleges and
retained kindly memories of our people, despite harassing Immigration and school
In later years Makino became one of the artificers of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance as
well as Lord High Treasurer of the Imperial household. Which reminds me of one of the
violent speeches he made at a meeting of the society in which he told a story of
"good old Sir Harry Parkes," who in the last century was the idol of the
"old China hands" because he preached and practiced the doctrine that the
Eastern peoples had no rights that the Westerling was bound to respect.
"A ship arrived at Yokohama," so ran Makino's story, "with cholera on
board and our medical men refused practique. But Sir Harry went to the Gaimasho (Foreign
Office) breathing fire and sword, and under threat of war our government yielded; the
passengers landed, also the cholera; as a result one hundred and ninety thousand Japanese
died and the terrible disease ravaged our land for two years.
Of course I do not know that this crime of Sir "Harry s," beloved of all the taipans
of the Treaty ports, can be authenticated, but I do know that Makino believed it and that
it had an unfavorable effect upon the relations between London and Tokyo for years. I tell
the story to illustrate the truth of the maxim of that wise old diplomat who said,
"Never forget that your enemy of today may be your ally of tomorrow." And so
Makino, with hot passion spent, became an advocate of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance which in
recent years has so mightily shaped the history of the Far East.
March 16, 1929
The Japanese delegation has suffered in the last week a loss of prestige which most
certainly they do not relish. The Council of Ten, composed of the ministers for foreign
affairs, has been superseded in favor of the Council of Four (the "Big Four" for
short). One of the delegates from the Rising Sun Empire sits in with the Council of
Ambassadors and one or the other, generally Makino, sits in with the other important
commissions, but they have no place in the Big Four. The explanation is that this august
body is composed of chiefs of state or prime ministers, such as Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd
George, and Orlando. While it is admitted that both Saionji and Makino have at various
times and indeed repeatedly served as premiers in Japan, they are not clothed with this
authority at present.
House thinks this little and local "exclusion act" most unwise, based as it
is on a mere technicality. The President appreciates the point and has authorized the
Colonel to assure Makino that the work of the Four will be submitted to him before its
final adoption and that then the Big Four will be expanded into the Big Five. Makino was
greatly pleased by the assurance. Evidently Tokyo had been harassing him for explanations
and for information which from personal knowledge he was unable to give. He beamed with
satisfaction when the Colonel assured him that up to the present the Four have
concentrated on European problems in which they have special interests, but that the
moment the larger world questions are brought up he will be called in and enjoy equal
opportunities and rights. No one but little Hughes from Australia seeks to hasten the
coming of that critical moment. He, however, morning, noon and night bellows at poor Lloyd
George that if race equality is recognized in the preamble or any of the articles of the
Covenant, he and his people will leave the Conference bag and baggage. Even the President,
usually so restrained not to say formal in his language, says Hughes is "a
pestiferous varmint" - but still he represents a continent. The President hates to
compromise, but as he admitted to House this afternoon:
"If we fail to get a perfect peace, of which we could be proud, at least we must
nor let the world slip back into anarchy."
April 25, 1919
In the early days of the Conference, on one of my walks with Colonel House, I told him
that during the years I spent in Tokyo as secretary of our legation I had enjoyed rather
close relations with both Count Makino and Prince Saionji.
Colonel House said nothing, but, as is now apparent, stowed this information away in
his capacious mental archives to be used later if a favorable occasion should be
presented. And the occasion came some weeks later, when the French press raised the
question of whether or not Prince Saionji was really in Paris.
The incident did not surprise me as much as it did those less familiar with Far Eastern
diplomatic procedure. I was well aware that the Prince had never been at any of the
Plenary sessions nor had he put in an appearance at the more intimate meetings of the
League of Nations Commission where the solemn Covenant that was to reform a distracted
world came under discussion. But these facts did not convince me that the Prince, often
spoken of as the last of the Genro, or elder statesmen, was not in Paris. I argued that
like all the "boss" men of the East, he preferred to remain "behind the
curtain." Wiser than Mr. 'Wilson, who with his "open covenants openly arrived
at" threw himself into the vortex of conflicting world interests, the Prince would
remain in seclusion and from this vantage point pull the wires that make the manikins
Spurred on by Colonel House, who thought, as the Shantung and the race-equality
problems loomed darkly on the troubled horizon, that the contact might prove useful, I now
mentioned to Count Makino my former acquaintance with his "invisible" chief. On
the following day, the Count assured me that the Prince retained a pleasant and an even
grateful memory of our meeting long ago, and particularly of the often tried and always
proved friendship for Japan of my distinguished chief and the United States minister,
Edwin Dun. I was further assured that at the first moment he was restored to some measure
of health, the Prince would seek an opportunity to renew a friendship which had left with
him such happy memories.
Yet days, indeed many days, passed and the desired contact was not established. I
however, we of the American delegation were not idle and we neglected no opportunity of
letting the Japanese know that we were not forgetful of the important contribution their
army and navy had made to the common victory. I even slipped to the Colonel the slogan
Prince Saionji had pronounced in 1916, and on the following day he passed it on to Makino
in his very best dramatic manner.
"If England and France fail to destroy German militarism," said Saionji - and
after him my Colonel - "their prestige and power as the leaders of western
civilization is at an end."
"And those words," added the Colonel, "are as true today as when they
were first spoken. We need you now as we did then, perhaps the need is even greater. The
emergency is not passed and we must stand together in making the peace as we did in waging
Upon hearing these sentiments Makino's inscrutable face flushed with pleasure and he
hastened away, doubtless to report them to his chief, who still remained so steadfastly
behind the honorific curtain.
On the following day, Sadao Saburi, the charming secretary of the Japanese delegation,
appeared. I felt he had an important communication to make, but at first we talked of this
and that. At last the communication came out. The Prince was almost restored to health and
he would be delighted to receive me on the following Monday to talk about the old days in
Japan and also about the equally interesting present.
An hour before I was to start, under the guidance of Saburi, on my pilgrimage to the
shrine of the last of Japan's elder statesmen, the Colonel summoned me to his private
study and gave me rather more definite instructions as to what my attitude should be than
was his wont.
"Of course," he said, "we want to detach the Prince from the position
which Makino, much as I like him in other ways, so stubbornly maintains. If the
opportunity presents, we want to start a fire behind Makino and Chinda [ambassador to
London, a conference delegate] and smoke them out - of course, in the nicest way possible.
But do not mention Shantung or the race-equality matter unless the Prince does. Deal in
generalities - 'old days in Japan' - but if he broaches these contentious matters I would
suggest that you should be indiscreet enough to say that in the opinion of the President
it is wise and indeed indispensable to have the Treaty and the Covenant as concise and as
compact as possible that the spirit that inspires these great documents is more important
than the mere number of the articles they contain. There is a French saying that expresses
our thought - "
"Qui trop embrasse, mal étreint," I suggested. "Grasp all,
"That's it, exactly," said the Colonel. "We must, of course, settle the
great problems in a big way, but the detail which take so much time and lead to such
passionate discussions we should put aside for a more tranquil moment, and for those who
come after. The passing of time will iron out many a problem that defies the most eloquent
appeals today. I have no doubt that, just as Makino says, Japan will do the honorable
thing in regard to Shantung, but I can well understand that Japan does not wish it to
appear she is doing this under compulsion or even pressure. And then, race equality: of
course, we admit it, indeed, we proclaim it, but there are national traditions, local
prejudices, and labor conflicts that unhappily have to be taken into consideration."
At the appointed hour Saburi appeared and escorted me to the piano nobile of a
very modern and commodious apartment house in the Parc Monceau quarter. Two Japanese
detectives, rough-looking customers they were, rose as we entered the antechamber. I
should say they were heavily armed, though their weapons were not as apparent as they
would have been had they been guarding the great man at the gate of his yashiki
in Akasaka. Decorously they drew in their breath, Nippon fashion, as they ushered us
through a number of empty rooms. In the last we were detained for a moment, and then a
secretary appeared, dressed to the nines, foreign-devil style. He urged us through another
door and then closed it behind us.
A subdued, an almost religious light pervaded this room and some seconds elapsed before
I caught sight of a tall. slim, and rather emanciated figure in Japanese dress advancing
with outstretched hands toward me. His coal-black hair had turned snow white and what
there was left of it was closely cropped, but his face and forehead were as smooth and
unwrinkled as they had been twenty-three years before when he was merely vice-minister in
Marquis Ito's cabinet. His countenance was as serene as that of the Great Buddha at
Kamakura looking out to sea. And yet, he who greeted me in this friendly way was one of
the few men who, uncrippled, had survived the turbulent political battles of the last
three decades in Japan.
The Prince began by giving me later news than any I had of my former chief, Edwin Dun.
Yes, he was living in Japan. in dignified and, to him, very welcome - retirement near
Oiso. His return to America after twenty-five years of tranquillity in Japan had been a
failure. Now he was back in the land he loved so well and where he was beloved. He has a
simple country villa, a lotus pond, and a rock garden.
"Of course, the death of his friend, Henry Denison, was a great blow to him,"
concluded the Prince, "but we do what we can to replace the one who has gone with our
friendship. He delights us all with his wisdom and philosophy."
Slyly the Prince made me trot out fragments of my wayfaring Japanese. It was
disastrous. I then retaliated and insisted on his English being exercised. it was
baffling, and then we had the good sense to place ourselves, unreservedly, in the hands of
Saburi, who spoke our language better than any Japanese I ever knew.
"It s a pity," said the Prince, "we make such a mess of our respective
languages, for, after all, language is the key to the soul."
He spoke now of Ito, his former political chief and mentor, and I asked him if he
recalled a famous lunch given by Mr. Dun at our legation at which all the surviving Genro
"It was at that feast of reason I had my first personal contact with Ito and
Inouye, with Matsukata, and with you."
With a deprecating wave of a small almost transparent hand the Prince said:
"You do me too much honor, classing me with the founders of modern Japan. Even my
most indulgent friends speak of me only as half-Genro."
We continued to discuss old days in old Japan, and the princely Buddha became so much
like common clay during our gossipy talk that I now ventured an inquiry that had, it is
true, political implications.
"I remember the dwarf pine tree from the sacred shrine of Ise in Mr. Mutsu's
office at the Gaimasho (foreign office), where we used to discuss foreign affairs and the
future of Asia. I would like to know the result of the grafting operations in which he
took such a keen interest?"
"They still continue," admitted the Prince, "though Mr. Mutsu has gone.
He grafted on the sacred stem shafts and cuttings of pines from Norway and from Scotland,
from Russia and from California. As a result of these shocks there were temporary
setbacks, but soon the noble Shinto type of pine from Ise prevailed."
Then, thinking, doubtless, that his story was symbolic of unchanging Japan, he added
quickly: "But we are getting parliamentary government in Japan now - or almost."
When at last we got away from old days in old Japan, in view of my instructions and
other attending circumstances, it was fortunate that Prince Saionji mentioned neither
Shantung nor the race-equality clause. He announced that he was in complete agreement with
the American point of view on the state of the world as expressed by me. Suddenly,
speaking in excellent French, he said we must nor let the trees hide the view of the
forest, and yet the task of the delegates must not be oversimplified.
"There are vital problems that cannot be ignored," he continued. "One of
these problems, and not the least important, is Russia. We should ignore the ephemeral
government that today seems to be in control of that great country. That government will
disappear I have no doubt, but the expanding genius of the Russian people will remain. To
this people we must keep the word, the promise we gave in the stress of war to the Tsar,
even though they have disowned him."
"To Japan, to all our people, I am not speaking merely for myself, the Conference
will have failed of one of it's high purposes unless the Russians are placed in control of
Constantinople and the Dardanelles. They must have a base there that will give them free
access to the warm waters of the Mediterranean. I do not say this merely in recognition of
our pledges to the Russian people. I have also in mind the interests of Europe. I am of
the opinion that Russia's agricultural produce and her increasing industrial output will
revive the devastated economy of Europe as nothing else can, and it is to the advantage of
us all to facilitate in all possible ways and by every legitimate means this revival.
Please tell Colonel House my thought on this matter. I am sure he will see its importance
and I am confident that I can rely on his co-operation. I did so and I think my report was
letter perfect. What the Prince had said filled the Colonel with admiration.
"What a wise old boy he is," was his comment. "Certainly, the outlet on
the Mediterranean would keep Russia busy in Europe for decades to come and give Japan for
the same period a free hand In Manchuria, in Siberia, and indeed in the whole of Asia.
What a boon that would be for Japan - and what disaster for China."
I naturally expressed regret that my interview with Prince Saionji had yielded such a
meager harvest, but the Colonel would not agree.
"Not at all, not at all," were the words with which he consoled me. "You
have established the fact, beyond the peradventure of a doubt, that the Prince is in
Paris, and from 'behind the curtain is pulling the wires that control the dance of his
puppets. To me it seems clear that he and those who think with him are contemplating a
general advance on the continent of Asia away from the uneasy islands. And how easy that
will be if Russia is engaged elsewhere. No, I think the fair inference from what the
Prince said is very important, although not very helpful in easing our present
difficulties. Japan is going continental."
[Throughout March the debate between the white and the yellow men continued. Deft
penman that he was, the Colonel could not draft a race-equality clause that failed to
throw Hughes of Australia into a berserker rage of uncontrolled fury. But when the Monroe
Doctrine reservation was inserted in the Covenant at the insistent demand of President
Wilson, the Japanese delegation became inactive, and well they might; for now the way was
paved for a renewal of the Okuma-Ishii doctrine, and the recognition of their regional
ambitions and rights on the east coast of Asia was implicit in the great charter of a new
and as we hoped a more peaceful world that was being fashioned.]
April 24, 1919
This afternoon Makino and Chinda appeared by appointments as solemn a pair of Dromios
as I have ever seen. And only a few hours before we had learned that Orlando had run out
on the Conference and was speeding to Rome. Makino said he had come in all frankness to
announce that Japan would not sign the Treaty unless her informal promise to return
Shantung to China, after receiving a pledge from the Chinese government that Japan would
enjoy the same privileges in the returned province as are enjoyed by the other foreign
powers, was accepted as satisfactory by the Conference. Somewhat sarcastically, Makino
"In Tokyo they do not seem to see why we should be the least- favored nation in
our relations with Shantung simply because almost unaided, with but the nominal support of
a British token force, we rescued the province from the German invaders."
While he retained, as always, his attitude of personal dignity, it is clear that Makino
is "mad" all through. - And I am not surprised; every broken-down newspaperman
from the east coast of Asia is here writing scurrilous articles about the Japanese. Of
course I do not believe that Japanese promises are beyond suspicion, yet at the same time
I can see how difficult it is for the Tokyo delegates here to apparently yield to this
crusade of vilification. A possible loss of "face" as involved, and in Asia that
bulks large; in fact there is nothing larger. The Chinese should recover Shantung and I
have no doubt they will, but it would be much easier to persuade the Japanese to take this
proper step if the Chinese press would refrain from its campaign of abuse. Chinda said to
"Does it nor seem strange to you that the Japanese forces driving the Germans out
of the holy province of Confucius did nor receive the support of a single Chinaman?"
And I confess it does seem strange, but as I well know the Chinese are a strange
people. You must not measure them with an American or a European yardstick.
April 25, 1919
Viscount Chinda and Baron Makino came in again today, frockcoated and very formal.
Evidently the activity of the innumerable pro-Chinese press agents has fully aroused them
from the almost Buddhistic calm they had maintained hitherto. Chinda talked with almost
incredible rapidity. Makino was impressively silent. Fortunately they left with me a
memorandum which explains the purpose of their visit. It read:
Our duty is to expose the propaganda of the Germans for the purpose of spreading
unrest in the Far East and preventing the rapprochement between China and Japan so
ardently desired by all the authorities in Tokyo. We denounce these dangerous canards. No
Japanese Minister is exerting pressure on China.
And then it reads:
We have no desire to interfere with the Chinese plenipotentiaries. We shall not
attempt to prevent China from pursuing an independent course at the Peace Conference. As a
matter of fact the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs now in Paris (Mr. Liu), when he
called on Baron Makino in Tokyo five months ago, promised helpful co-operation in the
settlement of Far Eastern affairs and received similar assurances from Baron Makino.(1)
The only substance to these malicious reports is this. Pending a settlement of the
questions between the Government of North China and that of the South, we have decided to
make no further advances or loans to either faction. If we did so, clearly it would be
regarded as support of one or the other, while of course our wish and our duty is to
remain neutral. We await the outcome of the Peace negotiations between the North and the
South now in progress. We have not signed a secret treaty with either party or with any of
the leaders. On February 2nd there was an exchange of notes; they provide for no cession
of territory and there are no secret clauses. We are prepared to return to China the
territory of Kiao-chiao, which we took from Germany at considerable expenditure of men and
treasure. We are turning it back to China eighty years before the lease the Chinese gave
the Germans expires, which we took over from the Germans by right of conquest. In
appreciation of this step we ask the Chinese to give us commercial opportunities in
Shantung equal but not superior to those which the other foreign powers now enjoy, no
more, no less.
Some unofficial Chinese whisper that we propose to occupy Mongolia with the purpose of
cutting China off from Europe. All these rumors are base fabrications and are circulated
with the purpose of stirring up trouble and strife in the Far East. We shall in the future
ignore them because we retain our faith in the integrity of the Chinese people and in the
sound judgment of the statesmen assembled here in Paris. Men of this high caliber will not
be misled by people who are opposed to a peaceable settlement even when they pretend to
have the official support of some faction in China.
It is a thousand pities that Wellington Koo and Alfred Sze are not the heading
delegates of China here. They are honorable men and they understand the world situation.
On the other hand, I know Mr. Liu of old and have no confidence in his integrity. He was
in 1900 one of the secretaries of Li Hung Chang in the Peking Boxer negotiations and was
known to be open to bribes. As a result of previous Shantung negotiations, the Japanese
have a strong hold on him which, in view of their subordinate positions, Koo and Sze may
not be able to break. To me Liu seems to be as venal as was his remarkable chief, but
certainly he is not endowed with the old Viceroy's great ability.
April 28, 1919
The Shantung affair is res adjudicata, at least temporarily, like everything
else. The President and Balfour have agreed to accept the personal promise of Makino and
Chinda to the effect that Japan will withdraw from the province of Confucius once they are
assured that she will not be discriminated against; that her people will retain the same
rights and privileges that the Great Powers of the West enjoy - that is, consular
jurisdiction under the capitulations, treaty port extraterritoriality, and so on. My
Colonel approves, but most certainly he is not elated over the solution that has been
arrived at. The settlement, such as it is, certainly reveals that the system of power
politics is nor dead but indeed very much alive.
Japan today is a great military power and China, despite her four hundred millions, as
a fighting nation for the moment is negligible. Her army has been modernized only
superficially and many of her troops are still drilled to fight in the "infuriated
tiger formation" that I witnessed from my perch on the wall of the Forbidden City as
far back as 1896. Of course, the argument that has prevailed, although never spoken, is
that with Italy withdrawn from the court of the Great Assizes that was to settle all
pending questions, with Russia absent and the Central Empires at least temporarily
excluded, should the Rising Sun Empire withdraw, our World Congress, or whatever it is,
would dwindle to the proportions of a rump parliament.
Baron Makino has given his word of honor that the withdrawal from Shantung will be
carried out as soon as it can be done with dignity, and there is no one here whose honor
is held in higher esteem than his. But this is not a personal matter. It is an
international problem of vital and far-reaching importance. Makino may be disavowed by his
Emperor, the son of the Sun Goddess, or he may be thrown out and his commitment disavowed
by the Diet. None too cheerfully it has been decided to incur these obvious dangers. At
least a majority, if not all, of the delegates are cheered by the thought that for the
moment the League has escaped the danger of complete collapse which has been so apparent
for tile last four weeks.
The Chinese have my sympathy, but how badly they have managed their case! They have
spent millions in publicity to prove that the Japanese army is a big bad wolf and a menace
to the peace of the world which everybody knew. Unwisely, too, the Japanese envoys have
been vilified in a manner that even I think is unfair and above all clearly a tactical
mistake. Certainly the revelations in regard to Japanese behavior in Korea and other
submerged countries and the low standard of political morality which prevails in Nippon
has not been a surprise to anyone who, like myself, has lived for three years in Japan.
Many here think, and I regard them as the more intelligent friends of China, that had not
the whole nation been placed in the pillory and covered with abuse, the decent element in
Japan, men like Shidihara, would have triumphed and the army of occupation in Shantung
would have been withdrawn without too much delay. Now these same people say that the army
clique and free-booters assert, "As we are condemned as scalawags and bandits, let us
at least hold onto the booty.
The truth as to the wisdom or the "unwisdom" of the decision reached will not
be apparent for months, perhaps not even for years. Some console themselves with the
thought that the League has survived a critical moment fraught with many dangers. The
realization of another one of the President's ideals has eluded him, but the League, while
bartered, does survive, and the President hopes to fight more successfully another day.
[1943. Very slowly and most reluctantly the Japanese did withdraw from Shantung, but
only after the Anglo-Japanese Alliance had been abrogated and the Pacific Conference in
Washington, 1921, had Insisted upon compliance. Today Tojo and his militarists are back in
Shantung; they are not there to pay respect to the sage who gave Analects to the children
of Han. They are there for the coal and the iron so greatly needed to give life and
substance to the East Asian co-prosperity dream.]
May 3, 1919
A Chinese manifesto, in many languages, is being circulated with the connivance and
perhaps even with the authorization of Mr. Koo and the delegation. Some of it has gotten
into the Paris papers. The anonymous author says that China has been stabbed to the heart
in the house of its friends.
"We are surprised, grieved and nonplussed," runs the statement. "After
nibbling at the question for weeks, the Big Four turned the matter over to Mr. Balfour, a
surprising ineptitude, as he is the sponsor if not the father of the Anglo-Japanese
Alliance." It concludes with the statement that Mr. Wilson in consenting to the
Shantung settlement has thrown over his own experts who admit that the arrangement, even
if it should be merely regarded as a temporary expedient, is most unfair to the Chinese.
May 4, 1919
At his urgent request, I again called on Dr. Morison from Peking who has been advising
the Chinese delegation, he is ill with the jaundice and is evidently in a serious
condition, but he hopes to leave for England in a few days. He said he did not wish to
express his personal opinion, but he thought we ought to know that the members of the
Chinese delegation were more furious with Wilson than they were with Balfour, whom they
regarded as his cat's-paw. Koo and all of them insist that Wilson said, "You can rely
"We did and now we are betrayed in the house of our only friend." He felt
confident the Chinese would not sign and that American interests would greatly suffer as
the result of what the Chinese were united in regarding as a base betrayal.
May 5, 1919
Another visit from Williams, who will not be comforted. He is a China expert and an
able adviser to the President. To him China is nor only important, it is the world
problem. As a matter of fact, I understand his feelings perfectly. "The Japs have
gotten more than they asked for. They should give China, who engineered the deal, the
Order of the Kite or some other equally high-flying decoration. That speck of land which
they have graciously agreed to give back to China is a dot on the harbor head which they
have found of no value and of course give it back, and gladly. Never was a reputation or
sweet reasonableness and even generosity achieved at such little cost. But they keep the
railroad into the heart of Shantung, not to mention the mines and the other properties
which the Germans stole - of course, only temporarily, but that means for the ages. Now
the policeman comes along, rebukes the robber, but allows him to keep the stolen property.
This railway, with its branches and the tributary lines yet to be built, will give the
Japs economic supremacy and political dominance in China right up to the Turkestan
Williams knows more about China than any man here, but the very fact that he has spent
practically his whole life in the Middle Kingdom prevents him, it seems to me, from seeing
the world picture. I asked him if he did not think that the fact that at considerable loss
in blood and treasure the Japanese had driven the Germans out of Shantung should be taken
into consideration and that the Chinese should abandon their silent but very effective
boycott of Japanese goods, daring from 1915, in recognition of World War benefits
received. He did not think so. He thought even less of my plea that perhaps it would be
wise of the Chinese to allow the Japanese the same trading rights in the territory they
had at the loss of several thousand dead reconquered, which China had accorded some years
before to the Germans in compensation for the murder of two missionaries.
"I am sorry for the poor Japanese peasant, too," insisted Williams. "He
is a pawn in the hands of his imperialistic leaders. They are after the conquest of Asia,
as a preliminary to world conquest, and their first objective is the coal and iron of
Shantung, which they need for their domestic economy as well as for their wider, more
far-reaching plans of conquest."
While Williams was still with us word came over the phone from the President's house
that as a conciliatory gesture the Tokyo government had agreed to withdraw all troops from
"I have no doubt they will do it," said Williams bitterly. "Then they
will hire a few starving coolies to throw stones at a passing train or even burn a bridge
and then, of course, the Japanese will be forced to order back their garrisons."
When told that the decision had been practically left in the hands of Balfour, Williams
was amazed. "Why, only yesterday, he, Balfour, summoned the Chinese delegates to his
hotel and counseled patience on their part, while at the same time he admitted he was
disappointed that the settlement had not followed more generous lines. Then he spoke a few
promising words which promised absolutely nothing. Of course, China will not give up the
province of Confucius without a long struggle. The only thing final about the arrangement
is that we Americans have sacrificed the last atom of prestige that we possessed in
Later. There is much excitement in Conference circles as the result of the
meeting which was called on the evening of April 29 to discuss Chinese affairs. It was
held in the famous salle in the well-named rue Danton, where so much verbal dynamite is
touched off at all seasons of the year. As a matter of fact, the near-riot that developed
was not anticipated and probably exceeded in fury the fondest hopes of those who fomented
it. In the tranquil days of three weeks ago the meeting was announced under the joint
auspices of the Chinese Society for International Peace and the French Ligue des
Droits de l Homme. There was reassurance in the announcement that Ferdinand Buisson,
a parliamentary dreamer I had often met and greatly liked, was to preside. But when the
Shantung negotiations became acute it was thought that the numerous Chinese students in
Paris would take control and turn the meeting into an assemblage to denounce the
cold-blooded selfishness of Europe and particularly of America in side-stepping all
responsibility for the Shantung settlement. And this is exactly what they did.
Ar the urgent request of Charles R. Crane [the wealthy, devoted champion of democratic
China, liberal Russia, and all Slavs everywhere], I accompanied him to the meeting and I
went in uniform. It seemed to me that things had reached a sad state when an American
officer would think it wise, as he suggested, to go disguised to an assemblage of Chinese.
He said that he feared things had come to an ugly pass and he admitted that even he, after
all the time and money he had spent in furthering republican institutions and popular
education in China, had received in the last few days not a few threatening letters.
Crane talked to the meeting very sensibly for about ten minutes, counseling patience
and assuring the students that while the Chinese cause had experienced a setback nothing
was permanently lost. Crane had hoped that his prestige and deserved popularity with the
students, so numerous in the audience, whom he had assisted in many ways, would have a
calming effect on them, but I am bound to say that this desirable result was not in the
least achieved. He was frequently interrupted with insulting remarks, addressed it is true
more to our delegation than to the speaker. Then with a sudden idea, which it seemed to mc
was a most unhappy one, Crane said that he now proposed to yield the tribune to me, whom
he described as a man who had lived in China and who, in a certain critical moment during
the war with Japan, in his capacity as secretary of the American Legation in Tokyo, and
under instructions from the Department of State, had ably protected the lives and the
property of many Chinese Nationals who were caught in Japan when the war came. I admitted
that this was true, although I protested that the value of my services had been greatly
exaggerated by my introducer. In reply to one heckler, while I admitted that I served the
American delegation in a subordinate capacity, I denied that I had in any way contributed
to the decision that had been reached and that I had no certain knowledge as to its terms.
The students and their Chinese friends, male and female, gave me after their first
outbreak a respectful hearing, but as I descended from the raised dais the cries that
arose from the audience made it quite clear that my appeal for patience and for a
continuance of confidence in the Western Powers had failed signally of the hoped-for
Whenever the meeting threatened to get out of hand, and this happened frequently, Louis
Laloy, the well-known French publicist, would put in a word of sanity and things would
calm down, but only for a moment. Indeed, I must confess that listening to the threats
that caine from every quarter of the hall against Wilson and his "Japanese
friends" I became alarmed for the safety of our President. The young students, boys
as well as girls, vied with one another in menacing words and, of course, I could not
forget that assassination has become a popular political weapon in the new Chinese era.
After Crane and I withdrew from the platform (where no one sought to detain us) the
proceedings were more to the liking of the audience and, I must also confess, more
interesting to me. Wang Ching Wei,(2) a young engineer just
back from China, drew a picture, partly in well-chosen English words, of the despair to
which the people would be reduced when they heard of the Shantung betrayal that I found
particularly moving. More violent in language was a charming little lady who was
introduced as Mlle. Emilie Tcheng, an art student, who spoke excellent French. She said
repeatedly we must change our tactics. "We must stop preaching peace. We must go in
for force," and the little coterie of girl students who surrounded her went wild with
delight at the new policy she announced. The boy students were a little sulky, for clearly
Mlle. Emilie had grabbed most of the spotlight. Then Eugene Cheng, the editor of the
Shanghai paper, whom Yuan Shih-kai had threatened to skin alive if he ever laid hands on
him, introduced a resolution to be forwarded to the United States Senate denouncing the
Big Four, and particularly Wilson. While it was in process of being voted on, unanimously,
I believe, I left the hall.
As the meeting broke up after several more fiery speeches from students, which probably
it was fortunate we did not understand, the air was one of menace and even of threats to
Wilson. Crane, while admitting that their provocation was great, was shocked at the
behavior of the men of whom it might be said that many were his protegees and pensioners.
He returned with me to the Crillon, and after a talk with the Colonel, and with his
approval, I got in touch with Chief Moran of the Federal Secret Service, charged with the
protection of the delegation while in Paris, and also with Colonel Starling of the White
House police, the President s "shadow." I was glad to learn from them that they
were both on their toes and fully alive to the ferment among the Chinese which had so
suddenly developed. "'We shall do our best," said Starling, "but the
President is a hard man to protect. He seems amused when we urge upon him the necessity of
precautions here to which he was not accustomed in Washington."
May 9, 1919
Wellington Koo [later Chinese representative on the League of Nations Council and
ambassador in Paris and London] came in this morning. Talked for nearly an hour with the
Colonel. I was called in to give my testimony as to the meeting. In the end Koo said:
"If Peking orders me to sign the treaty, I will sign otherwise not."
"When the Japanese move out of Shantung bag and baggage, as they have promised to
do, you will be the hero of the hour," said the Colonel encouragingly.
'But I ll be a dead hero," answered Koo. "If I sign the treaty even under
orders from Peking I shall not have what you in New York call a Chinaman's chance."
I thought this statement quite significant of the situation and passed it on to Moran
and Starling of the Secret Service for their information.
"I am too young to die," said Koo as he left us. "I hope they will not
make me sign. It would be my death sentence." [And he did not sign.]
1. I fear the unreliable Mr. Liu also received a handsome cumshaw
2. Later puppet president of China, in the control and pay of the
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